|A recent survey found the city's proposed expansion is opposed by a majority of registered voters.|
Will SOI issue weigh in on November's mayoral election?
A fresh polling of Elk Grove voters surveyed about the city's proposed expansion via the sphere of influence (SOI) application found it was opposed by a majority of registered voters.
The poll, which was commissioned by the Friends of the Swainson's Hawk, found that 51 percent of 1,371 randomly selected registered Elk Grove voters surveyed opposed the City of Elk Grove's plan to expand it boundaries by annexing 8,000 acres of farmland. The poll also found that 19 percent support the planned expansion and 30 percent had no opinion or declined to answer.
The SOI has been an issue for several years in Elk Grove and in 2009, the city dropped a portion of the original area east of Highway 99 along Grantline Road that included the Cosumnes River floodplain. Reacting to strong public opposition against inclusion of the floodplain, the city council, led by council member Gary Davis killed that portion of the application.
Subsequent to that, Davis, who is running for mayor, has supported the current application citing its need to help attract jobs to the city. Davis has consistently said that the majority of the 8,000 acres would be dedicated to attracting major employers rather than for continued development of housing.
The survey was conducted Sept. 20 and 21 by M. J. Ross Group, Inc. of Portland, Ore. If respondents were found not to be familiar with the SOI, respondents were read a statement that said “The Elk Grove City Council says that the City needs to annex 8,000 acres of farmland into the city to plan future urban development. Opponents of this proposal believe the City has enough room for urban development in the future and that farmland and wildlife habitat should be protected in the South County.”
Davis, the presumed frontrunner in this years mayoral election did not respond to an email request seeking comment on the survey.
The SOI has become one of the issues in the upcoming mayoral race with Davis taking a pro-expansion stance while at least two of his five opponents staking out positions opposing it.
One of Davis' fellow council members and opponents in the mayoral race is Sophia Scherman who said she does not support the SOI in its current form. "The swath of land that is being considered takes in too much open space that could be developed into something that Mother Nature would not appreciate," Scherman said.
Scherman noted her position on the SOI has evolved over time and that after further consideration, does not support the current proposal.
"Going too far south is my objection and hopefully my colleagues will recognize this as well," Scherman said. "We need more farmland not less."
One of the other mayoral contenders is long time SOI critic Lynn Wheat who has made opposition to it one of her campaign's pillars. Wheat said when she read the results of the survey she was not surprised that once people learn more about the SOI, they are opposed given the city's last public outreach on the matter was in 2009.
"During the listening sessions of 2009 many residents were not in favor of expansion and asked many questions that were left unanswered by the city," Wheat said. "The survey validates what many community members have been saying for a long time and what I hear from individuals during discussions at my informal coffee gatherings - expansion is not wanted or needed."
See original press release here.